Focus on the Family: Position Statement
Stem cell research is a new frontier in medical science. This type of research made headlines in late 1998 when scientists succeeded in isolating and culturing stem cells from human embryos. Scientists have also derived stem cells from aborted fetuses (fetal stem cells), umbilical cord blood (cord blood stem cells) as well as skin cells, bone marrow, and body fat (adult stem cells).
Embryonic stem cells are the earliest cells from which body organs are developed and grow into the more than 200 types of tissue in the human body. Initial medical research indicates that embryonic stem cells may hold promise for treating such conditions as heart disease, cancer and diabetes. So far, success with animal embryonic stem cell experiments is limited and researchers have been unable to move beyond animal studies because of the unpredictability and tumor-causing propensity of these cells.
Focus on the Family opposes stem cell research that destroys embryonic humans. In order for scientists to isolate and culture embryonic stem cells, a living, human embryo must be killed. It is never morally or ethically justified to kill one human being in order to help benefit another. By requiring the destruction of embryos, the tiniest human beings, embryonic stem cell research violates the medical ethic of "Do No Harm."
Opposing the willful destruction of human embryos for medical research does not mean that stem cell research cannot proceed. Focus on the Family encourages scientists to continue to explore stem cells found in other sources, including blood and skin cells, bone marrow and umbilical cord blood. Patients have benefited from treatments using these alternative stem cell sources for more than twenty years. Today, researchers are successfully treating patients with Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, heart damage and spinal cord injuries using non-embryonic stem cell sources.